Ferndale Police Chief Tim Collins and Ferndale Schools Superintendent Gary Meier held a news conference outside of about 4:45 p.m. Thursday to provide updates on a shooting earlier in the afternoon outside the center.
"We believe at this time it was a robbery gone bad," Collins said. "But the matter is still under investigation at this time."
Around 3 p.m. a gunman approached the entrance of Taft Education Center, an alternative education building of about 370 students, and fired a gun at the victim, Collins said. The victim was shot in the leg and the shooter fled west on Fielding.
The victim was alert when he was taken to the hospital, according to Ferndale Police Sgt. Dennis Emmi.
The district confirmed that the victim was a student of Taft leaving the school.
The Ferndale Public Schools buildings were then put on lockdown as the Ferndale police scoured the backyards of the homes in the surrounding area.
Collins said the gunman removed his black hooding during the escape. "We brought in a K-9 tracking dog but were unsuccessful," Collins said.
A search of the area and homes surrounding the center was completed, and the area was pronounced clear by police. But Collins told residents that if they see anything suspicious "and someone without a coat in this weather" to call the Ferndale Police.
The gunman is described as a young black male wearing tan pants and boots, a dark hat and standing about 5 feet 9 inches tall.
Collins said he did not know if the suspect was a student or if he knew the victim
"I'd like to express my appreciation of the Ferndale Police," Meier said, kicking off the news conference.
On Tuesday, another incident involving a gun took place at Taft. A former student and a student fought. Some time after the fight took place, that same day, a group of four went into Taft and one of them pulled out a gun and pointed it down the hallway. Collins also said that the department did not know if the two incidents were related or not.
Athletic practices and events have been canceled but all other school activities are still taking place.
Any information about the incident call the Ferndale Police at 248-541-3650.
This article was updated at 11:02 p.m.
4:11 p.m.: Ferndale Public Schools release an email alert at 4 p.m.
Ferndale, Michigan – A student attending the Taft Alternative Education Center in the Ferndale Public Schools was shot in the leg in the school parking lot after school this afternoon. The shooter, who is unknown at this time, is at-large in the community.
The Ferndale Police have advised the district to lockdown schools where students were still in classes and not release them until notified by the police (University High School, Ferndale High School, Taft Education Center, Kennedy School and Roosevelt Primary School). Students who were on the bus already from Ferndale Middle School or Coolidge Intermediate School have been redirected to Roosevelt Primary School where parents can pick them up.When the police notify us that this incident has been resolved, we will notify our school families, the community and the media.
3:45 p.m.: Police confirm that a student was shot in the leg at the Taft Education Center, a building that's part of the Ferndale Public Schools alternative education program, this afternoon.
The student, said Ferndale Police Sgt. Dennis Emmi, was alert when he was taken to the hospital.
He added that the investigation is ongoing.
There are two helicopters circling Taft, one of which is an Oakland County Sheriffs helicopter. All the Ferndale schools were locked down, according to reports from parents.
Deputy Superintendent Henry Gold, who was on site, said the district wasn't ready to make a statement yet. However the district did send out a robo-call to parents saying that the shooter was on the loose, parents are reporting.
According to a report on at the Daily Tribune, the police were searching for a suspect who was " wearing a light blue hat, light blue sweatshirt, and khaki pants."
The report said he was last seen going west on Fielding Street.
Witnesses Christine and Kelly Schaub said that they saw the victim lying in front of the Taft entrance, on the west end of the building. "They had oxygen on him when they put him in the ambulance," Christine Schaub said.
"It's sad when our kids can't be safe in their own schools," said Kelly Schaub.
Gold said the district is expected to make a statement.
On Tuesday, the Daily Tribune reported that a gun was pulled after a fight between a former student and a student was broken up.
Stay tuned to Ferndale Patch as this story unfolds.